Stories 'Bout You (pop tart remix)

June 17, 2012 6:38 PM

Major Dundee kindly allowed me to remix his latest (rather wonderful) opus, so here it is.

Over in this thread, Major Dundee kindly gave me permission to have a go at remixing his Stories 'Bout You song and shared the stems with me.

Part of the aim was to see if I could get a full, commercial sounding mix by using different drum and bass sounds, and basically kicking up the rhythm section.

Major D's bass and drum tracks were audio, so I used Melodyne to convert them to midi more or less successfully.

Then I started trying to make some sounds work. However in the end I made the somewhat brash decision to redo the drums completely (using Major's tracks as a guide), mostly because they just didn't sound right to me on the 'acoustic' kit. I also decided to play in Major's bassline live on a bass guitar, as close I could get it, since I know he's thinking about buying one.

I initially planned to use the Abbey Road 60s drum samples but they didn't seem to gel with Major's stuff, so I ended up using the NI Studio Drummer samples instead -- the 'studio' kit, which has a kind of west coast Steely Dan feel.

This was quite a radical mix for me because in the spirt of Major Dundee's recording, there is no reverb or delay anywhere on it.

I did however use plenty of EQ, some compression, and a LOT of distortion (via the Decapitator plugin). I also bounced the final mix out to 1/4" tape and back, not too hot, and then mastered it in Ozone... nothing very radical. Bit of EQ, bit of widening, bit of limiting.

I ran out of time to get it exactly how I wanted it, so the whole thing is slightly too crispy for me, and the chicky chicky guitars in the verse are a bit too hot.

I deliberately didn't refer to Major's mix. This one is pretty in your face, so I'm sure it's going to be too hot for MD.

I must say that Major has the most beautifully clean stems, and his arrangement is so well thought out I'm surprised it doesn't play chess. As a result this was a pleasure to do, not least because it's a great song.

There's a bit of tape hiss at the end which I could remove with a denoiser plugin but like I say, ran out of time today.

posted by unSane (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Just listened to Major's version for the first time since starting this -- wow, what a difference.

I think the main thing is I EQ'd the rhythm guitars for more of a chunky sound to fill out the mids.

I love the clarity of Major's mix, which is what mine has lost.

Some tech blabla for those who are interested.

DAW - Presonus Studio One, for both mixing and mastering
Drum Samples - NI Studio Drummer, 'studio' kit.
Bass - Peavey cheapo. MXR? I forget the name.

Decapitator on bass, drum buss, vocals
The Glue on kick, snare, overheads, room
T-Racks Opto compressor on vocals
Waves Vocal Rider on main vox
Waves CLA guitars on all the guitars, but only for EQ and compression.
Waves CLA bass on the bass
Fabfilter Pro-Q EQ on Vocals and rhythm guitars and maybe a couple of others, I forget. Mostly to hipass and lopass the guitars. For the vocals there was a lot going on, hipass at about 100 Hz, a bit of a dip in the mids around 500 Hz, a peak at 3kHz and then a high shelf to push the clarity.

It went out and back to a Revox PR99 with 911 tape. Levels were pretty conservative... the red LEDs were blinking a bit, but the needles were (I think) always in the black.

Mastering was in Ozone. 'smile' EQ notched back a long way. A tiny bit of harmonic distortion. Some widening of the high freqs, but left the bass and mids alone to keep the bass and vox centered. A bit of mid emphasis on the dynamics to keep things warm. Limiting was very moderate, just a bit on the loud 1s. You can check the RMS for yourself but it's not very high, around the -10 to -11 mark... a good 3 to 5dB quieter than most commercial rock mixes.
posted by unSane at 6:58 PM on June 17, 2012

The more I (re)listen to Major's mix, the more I hate mine, but I did learn one big thing from this, which is you don't need reverb or delay AT ALL to make a big sounding mix. Wow, that's quite an eye-opener.
posted by unSane at 7:05 PM on June 17, 2012

This is really interesting! It's obviously vastly different from my mix. I think the main thing that throws me is the lack of upfront hi-hat - so it's kind or something. But I like the differentness of this. It shows you just how differently someone else can hear things.

In fact that could be a really cool challenge - simply remix someone else's track.

In terms of my mix - it's not the case that there's no reverb on it. There's an early reflections on quite a bit of it, some plate and a bit of room. It's just that I don't print effects as a rule - certainly not reverb/delay - so the stems have nothing on them except what came off the mic or line.

My thing about minimal reverb comes from (a) a feeling that low reverb = greater warmth and immediacy and (b) reverb shouldn't be obvious unless you really mean it to be. The aim should be to record something that sounds so natural you forget it's a recording - that, to me, is nirvana. Bit controversial I'm sure, but I always feel that a hallmark of amateur recordings is......too much reverb. It's kind of like someone using too much deodourant because they can't be arsed to's not going to fool anyone who gets too close.

A big thanks to unSane for taking the time and effort to have a shot at this. What a star. One day, as I've promised him, I'll have the pleasure of buying him several pints.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:08 PM on June 18, 2012

Yeah, I don't know what happened with the HiHats, Major. I was having a lot of problems with my computer crashing when I was doing this, so that track might just have got not-saved at some point. I definitely needed to sleep on this mix... just ran out of time.
posted by unSane at 12:47 PM on June 18, 2012

Were you channelling Phil Lynott there? Great song, put me in a good mood, which I fucking badly needed.
posted by Elmore at 3:10 PM on June 20, 2012

Were you channelling Phil Lynott there? Great song, put me in a good mood, which I fucking badly needed.

and that's put me in a good mood too - so, hey thanks Elmore, we're both happy! Reminds me actually - I keep meaning to do a cover of Lizzy's "Fight Or Fall" (and I can put those unbelievably out-of-tune guitars right!) or Lynott's overlooked solo gem "Old Town" - which is a great, great tune but with a fucking awful 80's production that makes it sound like a demo.
posted by MajorDundee at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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